Randall Collins

Public Festivals: Ritual Successes, Failures and Mediocrities

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: ritual; festival; interaction; emotions; stratification.

Treating festivals as a precious property, perhaps unfairly appropriated by elites and excluding others, the academic and political discussion of contemporary art festivals too often neglects their ritual dimension, which is a constitutive feature of festivals as public celebrations. But how many arts festivals are indeed joyful or exuberant celebration? And are these emotions the appropriate criteria of success or failure? We must also ask ourselves: successful for whom, failures or mediocrities for what kinds of participants, and why? I will use the theory of interaction rituals formulated by Durkheim chiefly for religious and political events, and extended by Goffman and others into a pervasive sociology of the ritualism of everyday life. This theory shows the ingredients that make a festival (as a ritual) successful, or unsuccessful, or somewhere in between - average or mediocre.

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